By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A process has been proposed designed to streamline the way Canadian County government officials make certain purchases.
Commissioners are moving ahead with plans to implement a County Purchase Card Program.
County officers and department directors discussed the proposal at commissioners’ March 27 meeting. Commissioners approved a letter of participation to implement the program at their April 3 meeting.
District 1 Commissioner Tom Manske likes the idea of having a “p”-card for certain county purchases from companies that don’t accept purchase orders.
“Use (of a p-card) is in no way to avoid or bypass the purchasing laws,” Manske emphasized. “This is not to get around any laws. This is to make it simpler and easier.”
He pointed out how much society is “starting to go electronic.”
Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson agreed.
“I recognize the electronic capacity of our culture – not just county government,” Anderson said. “City, state and all.
“I think it would be wise to move forward in small steps. And I think it would be a good practice to use (the p-card) only in cases when vendors won’t deal with po’s (purchase orders).”
In presenting the proposal, Manske shared possible guidance for a new County Purchase Card Program:
- The card would be issued to Canadian County;
- Canadian County’s elected officers, district foremen and/or requisitioning officers could be cardholders. Commissioners would decide who has access to a p-card;
- Transactions would be paid by electronic funds transfers; and
- A $5,000-$25,000 limit may be set for any single transaction – exceptions would be for state contract purchases, utilities and emergency purchases.
WHY DO IT?
The Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES)’s policies and procedures list the advantages and safeguards for a purchase card program.
Among key advantages are:
- Expedited purchasing process
- Reduced transaction costs
- Prompt payment to suppliers
- Larger vendor list
“There are a lot of vendors right now that won’t work with po’s,” said Manske, citing hotel reservations as an example. “If we had the purchase card, this would expand the potential number of vendors that we can do business with.”
As it stands now, some Canadian County employees must be reimbursed after using personal funds to make purchases from vendors that will not work with purchase orders.
Canadian County Clerk Sherry Murray believes commissioners should limit how many people have a purchase card.
“There’s not a whole lot of vendors that don’t take po’s,” Murray noted. “We’re looking at probably 40-45 a year, so we may only need one p-card holder for the county.”
In fact, that individual could make purchases on behalf of any Canadian County department using the county’s card.
Canadian County Commissioners must adopt the State Auditor and Inspector’s procedure manual as policy if they implement the program. The county’s travel policy also would have to be updated.
“It’s not hard to move forward,” Commissioner Manske said.
As the first step, Canadian County commissioners have signed a participation request form to submit to OMES. This includes the name of the county’s purchasing agent as the program administrator.
The implementation process is expected to take six to eight weeks.
“It has some great advantages,” Manske added. “It’s not going to create that much paperwork in the end.”
Bank of America now has Oklahoma’s state contract for purchase cards.
Canadian County is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse through the U.S Department of Transportation.
The clearinghouse essentially serves as a background check for county employees who are CDL (commercial driver’s license) holders – and any new hires.
“They are an entity that doesn’t accept a po,” said Nacole Majors, Canadian County human resources director. “If we become out of compliance with running those background checks on our employees, we could face fines and our drivers could lose their licenses.
“And then we would be opening ourselves up to risk of litigation.”
The fine could be up to $14,000 per employee, Manske noted.
With Canadian County’s CDL drivers possibly being out of compliance this December, District 3 Commissioner Tracey Rider hopes to have the County Purchase Card Program in place for the new fiscal year.
Training would be required for Canadian County’s purchasing agent and cardholders. Rider believes all three commissioners should be among those trained.